An assistant professor of anthropology at Barnard College whose scholarship on the use of archaeology in Israel has attracted both fierce criticism and scholarly support has been approved for tenure, Barnard officials said in a statement released yesterday.
The professor, Nadia Abu El-Haj, who was born in America and is of Palestinian descent, contended in her first book, "Facts on the Ground," that Israeli archaeologists searched for an ancient Jewish presence to help build the case for a Jewish state. In their quest, she wrote, they sometimes used bulldozers, destroying the remains of Arab and other cultures.
Her bid for tenure set off petitions supporting and opposing her candidacy; some opponents accused her of shoddy scholarship, while some supporters said her opponents were engaged in an ideological witch hunt.
Barnard officials said in their statement that Dr. Abu El-Haj had passed a rigorous tenure review by scholars from Barnard and Columbia University, as well as independent scholars in her field. Tenure, college officials said, "gives scholars the liberty to advance ideas, regardless of their political impact, so that their work may be openly debated and play a critical role in shaping knowledge in the scholar's academic field."